Pangos All-American Camp Friday: UCLA commit Lonzo Ball has a great opening night

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LONG BEACH, Ca. – The opening night of play at camps like the annual Pangos All-American Camp is usually sloppy and littered with uninspired basketball.

Between camp teammates barely having a chance to learn each other’s names — let alone complicated sets — and also experiencing travel lag from making the camp, it isn’t necessarily the best time to see a prospect play a complete game of basketball.

UCLA commit Lonzo Ball changed that notion with his play on the opening night of the 12th annual Pangos camp on Friday night.

In a highly-touted matchup of 2016 five-star guards between Ball and Findlay Prep point guard Derryck Thornton, Ball was clearly the better player on Friday night, although the two have dramatically different games.

Ball is just a complete basketball player with a tremendous feel for the game and IQ. At 6-foot-5, Ball is the No. 14 player in Rivals.com‘s 2016 rankings and he has great size with the ball in his hands and the future Bruin is a tremendous passer in delivering to shooters or finding a big man in the post. Ball might be slow-footed defensively to guard quicker lead guards, but his hands and instincts are good enough to still make some plays in the passing lanes against wings that play more off-the-ball.

The 6-foot-1 Thornton is the No. 20 prospect in those same rankings and he has a lot of tools to work with, including a killer first step and crossover. But Thornton spends far too much time pounding the ball into the floor while trying to hunt for his own offense.

While Ball just played basketball and let the game come to him, Thornton instead seemed focused on the one-on-one matchup and it showed with some bad shots and overaggressive drives to the hoop.

Isaiah Briscoe battles Tyler Dorsey: While the Ball vs. Thornton matchup was the undercard of Friday night’s action, thanks in-part to it’s earlier slotting, the main matchup on the opening night featured a pair of high-level guard prospects in the 2015 class as Isaiah Briscoe matched up with Arizona commit Tyler Dorsey.

Briscoe and Dorsey spent a good portion of the game on each other and it made for some interesting basketball in the second game on Friday night. Much like the first matchup of elite guards, both Briscoe and Dorsey got a little too consumed with hunting their own offense, but they both made scoring plays and plays as passers and you can’t fault the clear best players on the floor for wanting to take the majority of the shots.

The slight edge probably goes to the 6-foot-3 Briscoe because he is more effective against physical play and he’s a much better passer — specifically moving the ball up the floor on the break. Dorsey is a better athlete, however, and has more upside getting in the lane and making plays around the rim thanks to his 6-foot-4 size and leaping ability.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averagedΒ 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.